Notices to Attend a Hearing and Subpoenas

When you file and serve a Request for Order (Form FL-300) or a Notice of Trial where you ask the court to make specific orders, the law does not require that the other party in the case go to the scheduled hearing (or trial). He or she may choose not to go.  If the party has a lawyer, the lawyer can attend for his or her client.

If the other side does not show up or just his or her lawyer appears, the judge may still be able to make the orders you request based on information that the court receives from other sources, including information that you provide. But since the other party is not present, the judge cannot make him or her testify nor consider documents that may only be in that party’s possession.

Sometimes, you may want the other party in your case to be present in court. For example, you may want the other party to testify in front of the judge or you may want him or her to bring certain documents to court because they will help you prove your case or give you information you or the judge will need. If this is the case, you may need to make sure that the other party in your case actually comes to court, so that the judge can order him to testify or produce the documents you need.

To make sure the other party has to come to court and/or bring certain documents, you have 3 main options. Click on any of them to learn more.

Your options are:

A “Notice to Attend” (also known as a “Notice in Lieu of Subpoena”) is a written notice that requires the other party to attend the court hearing (or trial). It also tells the party when and where the hearing or trial will take place.

The Notice to Attend has the same effect as a subpoena, but is easier to complete. For example, the notice does not have to be issued by the court before it is served. So, you can avoid an extra trip to the courthouse to have the clerk file or process it. (You can just file it with the court after it is served. See the instructions below to understand the process.) Also, the notice to attend can usually be served by mail on the other party’s lawyer (or on the other party without an lawyer), whereas a subpoena has to be served in person.  Read more about situations when the Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial may help you.

  • If you want to file a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial, click to learn how to file.

  • If you have received a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and want to object, click to learn how to object.

This is another type of notice that you can complete and serve if you want the other party to testify at the hearing or trial AND bring books, documents, electronically-stored information, or other things that you need to support your case. This notice includes a list of those items that the other party has in her or her possession that he or she must bring on the court date. Read more about situations when the Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial may help you.

  • If you want to file a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and Bring Documents, click to learn how to file.

  • If you have received a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and Bring Documents and you want to object, click to learn how to object.

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A subpoena is a court order that requires a party (or a witness who is not a party) to come to court to testify. It can also require the person to bring certain papers to the court hearing or trial.

You may subpoena the other party or a non-party witness to the hearing if:

  • He or she is a California resident.
  • You need him or her to come to court to testify and there is a possibility he or she may not come.
  • He or she has documents you need to support your case and will not give them to you.

Most subpoenas are used to require a person who is not already a party in the case to attend the hearing or bring documents. If the person is already a party in the case, you do not have to complete a subpoena. Instead, you can use a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial.

Keep in mind that you can only use any of these options if the other party is a California resident.

Situations when a Notice to Attend a Hearing or Trial (and Bring Documents) may be helpful in your case

Notices to Attend a Hearing or Trial (including a request to bring documents) are often not necessary, but there are some some situations in which they can be really helpful for your case. To avoid going through the additional paperwork of a Notice to Attend, talk to your self-help center or a lawyer to find out if a Notice to Attend makes sense for the orders you want the court to make.

Here are some examples when a Notice to Attend may be a good idea:

  • Requests that involve financial issues such as child or spousal support, lawyer’s fees and costs, or other similar topics where the judge will need to look at financial documents to make a decision. In general, judges require both parties to provide current financial information in order to calculate child support, how much one party should pay toward the other’s lawyer’s fees, or consider other financial issues. If you are asking for an order involving financial information, and the other party in your case does not go to the hearing or give his or her financial documents, the judge may still be able to make orders based on your information alone.  But sometimes, the judge may be hesitant to make the orders you need – especially in cases where the other party is self-employed or there is a complicated financial situation. In that case, it may help you to file a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and Bring Documents. The Notice to Attend would require the other party to go to the hearing and bring all the relevant financial documents so the judge can make orders about the issues that concern you.

  • Requests that involve the other party being available to answer the judge’s questions about any documentation or other evidence provided, or about issues important to the case.  If you think that the judge will want to ask the other party questions directly, have him or her testify about financial or other documents, or facts in the case, it may help you to file a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial, so that the other party come to court to testify if needed.

How to File a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and Bring Documents

Note:If you have received a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and want to object, click to learn how.

These instructions apply to both types of notices:

1.   Prepare a Notice to Attend.

  • You can use this Notice to Attend template if you only need the party to go to the hearing or trial. Fill in the information for your case.
  • If you need the other party to attend the hearing or trial AND also bring documents or other items, you can use this Notice to Attend and Bring Documents template, and fill in the information for your case. Make sure you specify what documents and other materials you want him or her to bring to court, and clearly explain that he or she has the documents or access to those documents.

2.   Make 3 copies of the Notice to Attend.

Keep the original notice and one copy for yourself. Use one copy to serve on the other party. You may also need the third copy for the court.

3.   Serve the Notice.

Someone 18 or older not involved in the case must mail or personally deliver a copy of the Notice to Attend to the other party’s lawyer (or to the other party, if he or she does not have a lawyer).

  • For a Notice to Attend (not including the request to bring documents): You must have it served by mail at least 15 days before the hearing date. If it is delivered in person, it must be served at least 10 days before the court date;
  • For a Notice to Attend AND Bring Documents: You must have it served by mail at least 25 days before the court date. If it is delivered in person, it must be served at least 20 days before the court date.
  • A judge may order a shorter time for service, but you must ask for it.

4.   Have the server fill out a proof of service.

The person who served the notice has to fill out a proof of service saying when and how they served the notice on the other party’s lawyer (or on the other party without an lawyer). The server can use a:

  • Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) if they served the notice by mail; or
  • Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) if they served it in person.
  • Be sure to make at least 2 copies of the proof of service.

5.   File a copy of the Notice to Attend and Proof of Service before the hearing (or take them with you on the day of the hearing).

Filing a copy with the court before the hearing is not required, but it can be helpful if the other party files written objections.

6.   Go to your hearing.

Take at least one copy of all of your documents, including the Request for Order, Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and Proofs of Service.

Keep in mind

  • Objections: The other party may object to the notice. He or she must file and serve written objections within 5 days from when the date the Notice was served (or any other time ordered by the court) and state the reasons for the objections. If this happens, you may want to try to reach a written agreement with the other party if, for example, the objections are about the documents required to be produced. If you are not able to reach an agreement, you may need to file a Request for Order to set a separate hearing to compel (force) the other party to come to court and/or to bring the documents you need. In your request, include a copy of the Notice to Attend, explain why the court should order the other party to attend or bring any documents that you listed, and ask the court to make an order.  If you received a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and want to object, click to learn how.

  • Failure to attend or bring documents:  If the other party does not attend the hearing or bring the documents you requested without having filed an objection, the judge can make orders against him or her (called “sanctions”) for failing to comply with the notice. At the hearing, you will need to show the judge the original Notice to Attend and the Proof of Service. The court could also require you to file a copy of the Notice and Proof of Service before it makes the order.

  • Witness fees:  The other party has the right to ask for a fee for the day they appear, and reimbursement for mileage to travel to the court hearing.

How to Object to a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial

If you have been served with a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial or a Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and Bring Documents, you have the right to object to the notice.

To object, you must act quickly. You must complete these steps within 5 days of being served with the Notice to Attend (or another time the court may have ordered on the Notice to Attend documents):

1.  Write out your objections to the Notice to Attend on pleading paper. You can use this template to object.

  • Your written objections must state your reasons for your objection to the Notice to Attend.
  • You can object to having to attend the hearing or trial, and explain why.
  • You can object to bringing some or all the documents that the other party requested in his or her Notice to Attend Hearing or Trial and Bring Documents. Again, explain why you are objecting and what documents you are objecting to bringing to your hearing.

2.   Make 2 copies of your written objection (all pages).

3.   Serve your objection.

Have someone 18 or older mail or hand-deliver a copy [not the original!] of your objections to the other party.The person who served the notice has to fill out a proof of service saying when and how they served your written objections on the other party’s lawyer (or on the other party without an lawyer). The server can use a:

  • Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) if they served the notice by mail; or
  • Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) if they served it in person.
  • Be sure to make at least 2 copies of the proof of service.

4.   File your original and a copy of your objections, together with a completed Proof of Service and copies, at the court’s clerk’s office. They will file-stamp your copy of the objections and of the Proof of Service and return to you.

5.   It is possible that before your court the other side may contact you to try to reach an agreement. If you do not reach an agreement, the other side may file more documents asking the court to order you to appear or to bring the documents in question. You will again have an opportunity to object. Ultimately, the judge will make the decision about whether to order you to go to court and/or bring the documents in question.

Subpoenas

To subpoena the other party, follow these instructions:

Note: These instructions only apply when you are subpoenaing a party or a non-party witness to testify and/or bring documents to court. They do not apply to subpoenas for consumer records. If you want to object to a subpoena, click to learn how. If you just want to subpoena business records (like bank records or employment records) related to the other person, click to learn about subpoenas for business records.

1.  Fill out your Subpoena.

Fill out a Civil Subpoena (Form SUBP-001). Write in the full and correct name of the other party or witness.

If you also want him or her to bring papers to the hearing (or trial), use the Civil Supoena (Duces Tecum) (Form SUBP-002) and describe exactly what papers they must to bring to the hearing (or trial).

2.  Take the Subpoena to the clerk to have it issued.

The clerk will look at the Subpoena and may ask you a few questions. The clerk will then issue, sign and stamp your Subpoena "Filed.”

3.  Make copies of your filed Subpoena.

Make at least 2 copies of the Subpoena. One for you and another for the other party or witness.

4.  Serve the Subpoena.

Serve a copy of the Civil Subpoena on the person you want to come to court. It must be served within a “reasonable time” in order for the other person to be able to travel to the hearing (or trial).

Anyone, even you, can serve your Subpoena, but this must be done IN PERSON (not by mail).

5.   Fill out Page 3 of the original Civil Subpoena.

Have the person who served the Subpoena fill out the page and sign at the bottom of page 3.

6.  Return the Subpoena to the clerk before your hearing (or trial).

Keep in mind

  • Objections: The other party or witness has the right to object to the subpoena. If the other party objects to the subpoena, and you are not able to reach a written agreement to change the language of the subpoena, he or she must file a request for order to quash the subpoena. If the witness is a non-party, he or she has the right to file and serve written objections, and then it becomes your obligation to seek a court order for the non-party witness to comply with the subpoena. If you have received a subpoena and want to object, click to learn how.

  • Witness fees:  The other party or witness has the right to ask for a fee for the day they appear, and reimbursement for mileage to travel to the court hearing.

  • Failure to obey subpoena:  A person who disobeys a subpoena can be immediately punished by the court for contempt (including a $500 monetary sanction, plus other expenses caused by the failure to comply).

How to Object to a Subpoena

If you have been served with a Subpoena, and you want to object to it, you must act reasonably quickly.  Since you are a party to the case, you must file a Request to Quash the Subpoena. You can use the Request for Order (Form FL-300).

Follow these steps:

  1. Fill out and file a Request to Quash the Subpoena.
  • Give your reasons for your objections to the Subpoena and what it is asking for.
  • You can object to having to attend the hearing or trial, and explain why.
  • You can object to bringing some or all the documents that the other party requested in his or her Subpoena. Again, explain why you are objecting and what documents you object to bringing to your hearing.

  1. Make 2 copies of your Request to Quash the Subpoena (all pages).

  1. Serve a copy of your Request on the other side.

Have someone 18 or older mail or hand-deliver a copy [not the original!] of your Request to the other party or his or her attorney.The person who served the notice has to fill out a proof of service saying when and how they served your Request on the other party’s lawyer (or on the other party without an lawyer). The server can use a:

  • Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) if they served the notice by mail; or
  • Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) if they served it in person.
  • Be sure to make at least 2 copies of the proof of service.

  1. File your original and a copy of your Request, together with a completed Proof of Service and copies, at the court’s clerk’s office. They will file-stamp your copy of the Request to Quash the Subpoena and of the Proof of Service and return to you.

  1. Go to your court hearing on the Request to Quash the Subpoena. The judge may quash the subpoena, modify it, or order you to comply with it. The judge may also order the losing side to pay the other’s attorney’s fees related to issuing the subpoena or requesting that it be quashed.

Subpoenas for Business Records Only

This type of subpoena can be used to get copies of documents directly from a bank (like checking or savings account statements and loans under a person’s name), a credit card company, or an employer. In some situations, you may want to use this kind of subpoena if the other party does not go to the hearing or give his or her financial documents.

This kind of subpoena tells the custodian of records (the person at the bank or other institution in charge of the records) to provide copies of the business records at the time of a:

  1. Hearing or trial (you can use the form Civil Subpoena (Duces Tecum) for Personal Appearance and Production of Documents, Electronically Stored Information, and Things at Trial or Hearing and Declaration (Form SUBP-002); or
  2. Deposition (you can use the form Deposition Subpoena For Personal Appearance and Production of Documents and Things (Form SUBP-020)). If you use Form SUBP-020, but you do not need the custodian of records to actually appear at the deposition, the subpoena form can be modified. Ask a lawyer for more information.

Before you can ask for these consumer or employee records, the other party must get notice and an opportunity to object (the person objecting can use the form Notice to Consumer or Employee and Objection (Form SUBP-025).

The procedure for this type of subpoena can be complicated. Talk to a lawyer for help.

© 2017 Judicial Council of California